Sean Corrigan, Eva Kiernan, Fionn Kiernan, Finbarr Kiernan, Caitlin Dinneny, Fiachra Kiernan.

‘It’s great to be opening a door and turning on light’

Vet reopens Kellys Bar in Killeshandra

A landmark pub in Killeshandra has reopened in recent weeks offering a warm welcome to everyone.

Finbarr Kiernan is the driving force behind the reopening of Kelly’s Bar, aiming to help revive the business fortunes of the town, and a provide a destination venue befitting a beautiful area with such untapped potential.

As such, Finbarr is eager to cater for all tastes providing three distinct areas within the one premises. Anyone eager to catch a big match or sporting occasion - whether that’s Cavan Club Championship, All Ireland Championships, title fights or Premier League clashes - can rest assured Kelly’s will have it on their selection of large screens. Meanwhile, those who just want to enjoy a chat over a drink will be guaranteed a warm and welcoming spot in their old style traditional bar.

The role of the pub as a fulcrum of community life is uppermost in Finbarr’s mind and as such Kellys also boasts a comfortable communal area.

They further promise to develop the backyard bar into “a fine facility” as the weather improves, and will reopen the Bed & Breakfast in 2024.

“We want to develop it as a bar for everybody, for the old people and the young people and everybody in between.”

A sports-obsessed family, the Kiernans’ passion for Gaelic football sees them attend matches well beyond their own parish. Kelly’s Bar will reflect that passion that’s shared by many in the Leaguers’ territory.

“It’s walls are adorned with photos of heroes and teams of Cavan football in the past - there’s also a Leitrim photo as well, because Killeshandra is so close to the Leitrim border,” Finbarr says hinting at his own roots. “There’s also pictures from Longford and Fermanagh, welcoming people from those counties nearby.”

Kellys also has a newly resurfaced pool table and two dartboards and they hope to recruit players to compete in the various pub leagues.

Finbarr correctly observes Killeshandra is a centre of trad music, a fact confirmed with the town hosting next summer’s county fleadh. Once the family have found their feet, Finbarr intends to host the best Cavan exponents of trad, country and contemporary music - “everything” he stresses of the genres they will showcase.

“We would be looking at helping to promote local emerging musical talent.

“We are looking to get in there, get the door open and get the smiley faces in and then absolutely music will be central to it, as will sport.”

Asked about retaining the Kelly name above the door, Finbarr emphasises the “highly important” decision was in honour of the previous owner, Dónal Kelly, who he describes as “a remarkable young gentleman” who passed away in December 2018.

“For Killeshandra he had been a beacon of hope for a town which, like a lot of west of Ireland and border county towns was decaying in front of us.”

Finbarr said that Dónal had a vision to develop his bar and complimentary hospitality businesses in Killeshandra to help regenerate the town.

“I’ve had the privilege of buying it and privilege of reopening it.

“All we are trying to do is continue some of the legacy that Dónal started.”

Better known for his veterinary practice, Finbarr acknowledges he and his family are new to the pub trade. However Finbarr feels strongly about what he sees as the prioritisation of jobs and investment and government spending on “a few square miles in Dublin” to the detriment of rural Ireland. Rather than simply give out about it, he was eager to take action.

“In a day and age when we have Broadband and mobiles people can come and live in these communities, so we need to have social outlets for these communities - be it their local bar or restaurant. You can’t have people live in towns with no facilities and amenities.”

To that end Finbarr was eager to acknowledge the reopening earlier this year of The Shamrock Bar, an extension to the ongoing success of Fika 33, on Main Street, the hard work of local businessman Tomás O’Reilly.

“Hopefully we can contribute to the regeneration of Killeshandra, a remarkable community.

“The encouragement we have received from the community around the reopening - you wouldn’t get it anywhere else.”

He sees Killeshandra as blessed with its seven lakes, beautiful countryside and walking and cycling trails, and believes it just needs the infrastructure and businesses to support it.

“For a town that has, without a shadow of a doubt, suffered its fair share of setbacks in the last few years, with a number of doors closing on Main Street, it’s great to be opening a door and turning on light.”